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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Everybody Back To The Rock by Nicholas Napoli

The new continuation of Fraggle Rock: Back To The Rock looks amazing, perfect, I’m definitely watching this. Since I was a little kid, the show I’ve most wanted to see brought back is Fraggle Rock, more so than The Muppets. The Muppets have never gone away, and every now and again tell us a new fun story, but Fraggle Rock is one long narrative that has so much meaning and is so powerful, I think 2022 will be exactly the perfect time to bring the message of Fraggle Rock back to screens. I’m interested in this show, not just as a fan who wants to see this story continued but also its effects on people, especially children. I grew up watching Fraggle Rock obsessedly since I was very little, I always thought it was all so colourful but hoped for brighter colours and settings, this new series gives that, I’m so excited to watch this. Ditzies! We get Ditzies! Fans notice this stuff and I for one love it, modernized Doozer vehicles with lights travelling under the construction! This is exactly how I’d pictured and hoped a return to Fraggle Rock would look like. I’m so excited, are we getting Sprocket? How will Doc’s replacement be written into the story? Will poor Sprocket have to prove Fraggles are real all over again for a second time? Or is there a new element now with Fraggles interacting with humans, slowly gaining their trust as they did with the Gorgs in the original? The Gorgs! I really hope they’re back, how do their modernized looks compare to the original? Will we finally be getting Gorg 6” Funko flocked figures? I’m so excited for all this, everything about it, I think it’s all perfectly done. 

When the trailer first came out, I couldn’t believe my eyes, the picture art alone had me eager to press play and I did and I found it amazing. Not just the show, that feeling, the childhood excitement that we all felt as children, every time we zoomed in through the window, into the workshop, towards the Fraggle hole and through it until we came upon Gobo who guided us into Fraggle Rock during the theme song. That feeling of déjà vu nostalgia that takes you back to your childhood days watching the original and nothing else was happening around you. After I watched it, about ten times, I then stopped and decided I wasn’t going to watch it again, I enjoyed it, I’m eager to watch the show, but enjoying it so much was bothering me. Steve Whitmire, he’s the only element missing from this fantastic new rebuilt world of the Fraggles, though I still plan to watch this because there is no way I will not watch. I began to read the comments, honestly, I wanted to see if there was anything about Steve Whitmire or Wembley in the comment sections. Most everybody dislikes the new Mokey and the digital backgrounds are not liked by many, I actually don’t have a problem with this, in fact I think I prefer these changes, I really like them. As I read the comments, I was happy, Fraggle Rock: Back To The Rock was not getting the praise it deserved, why was I happy? Deep down the Steve Whitmire thing bothers me so much, I feel bad for liking and planning to watch the show and subconsciously having hatred towards the new show that I was happy to see negativity around it. How is that way of thinking on my part in the spirit of Fraggle Rock? How can I be so excited for something yet still not feel passionate about it like the original? When everything about this new version is perfect, except for the emptiness of Steve Whitmire’s absence.

Mokey, I always felt like she was more mature, older than the other four Fraggles, I didn’t like that for one reason. I preferred to believe the Fraggle five were all blank slates learning together, alongside it’s audience, all at the same time, nobody had an advantage over anybody else. This is why when Cantus randomly appeared or the Trash Heap gave advice it was so important and valuable, not just for the Fraggles but the viewers too. I like that this new Mokey seems younger, more aged like the others. I guess she started wearing her hair up and stopped eating Fraggle Berries, she looks younger and more alert, hopefully she won’t be excluded from merchandise as much now. I do hope that sometimes Mokey lets her hair down, or maybe seeing her tie up her hair as they talk amongst themselves. Sounds silly, but it would make it easier to feel the illusion that this is our Mokey returning after many years. A new Mokey, who we’re seeing transform at times in front of us into this new haired up version with wider eyes, which is still her and not an updated version of the puppet. 

As for the digital backgrounds, I like them, though I do understand why others don’t, I hope we do get some more natural cave settings, as I think has been confirmed we will. What I like about this new technology, although it might not be as familiar as fans would like, is the fact that it allows the Fraggles to explore more places, especially the Gorgs garden. What’s beyond the Gorgs garden? Could the Gorgs and Fraggles venture out further away from the castle? Could they explore more areas within the caves? Could they explore new locations the tunnels lead into? So many more possibilities are now available for these characters, that has me so excited. The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance was incredible, added so much to the original movie, like Fraggle Rock another long narrative being told and I also think it came back at the perfect time. As good as Age of Resistance was, Netflix decided not to renew season two, budget costs. I hope the budget for Fraggle Rock is kept as low as possible, so that we don’t stay wanting a season two we won’t get. Hopefully Fraggle Rock will get many seasons, it definitely deserves it, maybe if it succeeds The Dark Crystal’s long narrative can continue to be told with a season two on Apple TV+. 

Wembley from Fraggle Rock: Rock On was good, Wembley from the Fraggle Rock: Back To The Rock teaser also seemed good. Nothing against the two separate guys performing them, they both seem to do a good job, I hope these performers get their own characters to build up within the world of Fraggle Rock. Even though these are good Wembley’s, it’s not Steve Whitmire’s Wembley. To me if a performer passes away or steps down it feels like the hand inside the puppet, the soul, has had to leave and now all that’s left is a lifeless puppet, who becomes retired but only for a certain amount of time. With time, having a new performer, a new hand, a new soul revive that character is welcomed, needed, accepted and the illusion can continue. When the performer is forcibly removed, when that hand, that soul has been taken away and brought back by another immediately, I can’t connect with that character. I can’t fall into the illusion that these are real characters that I have followed since childhood, my friends. I feel like I’ve betrayed not so much the performer, but rather the character, I know this sounds silly but the whispers coming out from the hole in my kitchen are telling me that this makes a lot of sense. 

Imagine if Steve Whitmire were allowed to be part of the series, at this point only voicing over Wembley for the first season and returning to bring Wembley to life in future seasons. What strength, what power that would give to this new show, outside of the story there would be special meaning of a real-life experience fans can connect to with the show. How much more popular could this show be with headlines announcing “Steve Whitmire returns to The Henson Company”. I’ll watch the show no matter what, but adding Steve Whitmire, as a fan to me, that would add so much value to this show being everlasting in my mind alongside the original. There would be so much meaning surrounding this new series, so much joy, so much happiness. The Henson fandom is divided, this could fix that, the fandom repaired, everything and everybody slowly coming back together alongside a new Fraggle Rock series, how powerful. It could probably fix so much if Steve Whitmire were included with the Fraggles, it’s the last thing missing in my opinion.

 

Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock — Official Teaser | Apple TV+ - YouTube I can’t wait to watch this, looks like a perfect continuation, I wish Steve Whitmire were part of it, give me Gorg merchandise.

- Nicholas Napoli

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